Welcome to a journey unlike any other. The “Anti-Hero’s Journey” is the debut literary adventure from the enigmatic and multifaceted Ben “Doc” Askins. Doc’s journey from his small-town upbringing to his early days in the seminary, then his transition into the U.S. Army as a combat medic, later turned psychedelic-inclined mental healthcare provider, boggles the mind. As the only MAPS-certified practitioner of psychedelic-assisted therapy actively serving with the military, Doc’s book gives us unique insights into the workings of consciousness, psychedelic medicine, and human nature.
Doc’s academic and professional journey is as diverse and intriguing as his personality. Holding degrees in Outdoor Education, Intercultural Studies, Physician Assistant Studies, and Divinity, his expertise spans a broad spectrum. He has two decades of experience in wilderness, tactical, and expeditionary medicine, honed in the military. In civilian life, he is a Psychiatric Physician Assistant, blending an evidence-focused approach with an integrative perspective in mental health. This includes extensive experience in ketamine-assisted psychotherapy (where his practice combines KAP with MAPS MDMA therapy protocols), medicine management, and spiritual direction.
Doc is also a member of the Wilderness Medical Society and the William Blake Society. He is a National Outdoor Leadership School alum, a veteran of the Global War on Terrorism, and has completed postgraduate training in Neuropsychiatry and Genomics.
Doc’s book touches on loss, deeply emotional life events, and suicide, always handling each with compassion and the occasional zinger to help lighten the mood when needed. Unlike other books in the psychedelic field, which often feel like a combination of college lectures and research thesis, Doc’s story plays with the mind. His narrative often makes one feel like they’ve slipped out of their consciousness and into the kaleidoscopic chaos of the gestalt entity “Doc,” who’s an amalgamation of the “real” Ben Askins and a character unto themselves.
At its heart, “Anti-Hero’s Journey is a warped war memoir describing the way to enlightenment.”
Drawing on his diverse experiences and unique worldview, Doc challenges conventional notions of reality, facts, and the nature of truth. This book is not just a read; it’s a psychedelic experience that promises to change how you view the world and yourself.
Prepare to embark on an intellectual and existential odyssey that will make you question everything you thought you knew. Welcome to the “Anti-Hero’s Journey.”
Chapter One: Stories
There are no uninterpreted facts. Everything you call a “fact” sits on a network of beliefs about what is and isn’t true. “You were born on your birthday” is just a story someone else told you. You have a certificate to prove it, which you received from some very serious people in very serious positions of authority. And very serious people should be taken very seriously. So you’ve been told, anyway, by very serious people.
The beliefs you have regarding how to discern “the facts” rest on stories that you’ve been told, but those stories are all just stories, too. You can dress it up real fancy and call it epistemology and get someone to pay you to write papers and give lectures about it. At the end of the day, though, it’s just more stories about story-telling. Stories on stories on stories.
The fact that enough people around you also believe similar stories is what makes it much easier to sleepwalk through existence. A fish doesn’t know it’s in water until you stick a hook in its face and yank it up into the bright light of the world above. Toss it back into the stream, and it’s got one hell of a story to tell. But it’s just a ghoti tale, even to the other ghoti.
Conflicts arise when people with different stories look at the same “facts.” I looked at the night sky, and I learned about constellations by connecting the dots between the glowing white spots up there. Meanwhile, out in the bush in Australia, they’re connecting the dark spaces in between the glowing spots to make their constellations. I point at a bright scorpion. They say it’s a dark emu. I laugh at them. They laugh at me. Who’s right?
Both. And neither.
Is that a fact?
The truth will set you free, they say, but first, it’ll piss you off. That may be right, but then it’ll make you piss yourself laughing if it’s truly true.
You need to untell all your untrue stories before you can even begin to consider “the facts.” And that untelling is the journey of a lifetime. Or after-lifetime, maybe. You’ll see what I mean when you get there. The older you are when you start, the harder it can be. We should start untelling untruths in kindergarten. Maybe sooner.
“But how do I untell untruths?” you ask. “It sounds like some Alice in Wonderland nonsense.”
Excellent question. And a perfect literary reference, too! You’re already starting to get it. The editors said you wouldn’t understand all of this, but I knew better. You’re gonna be such a great Zero when you’re finally Nothing.
How to untell untruths? Self-deception is the gate, and irony is the key. You must find all the ways in which you have deceived yourself. Theologians of many different stripes have called it the “noetic effect of sin.” “Noetic” refers to thoughts, thinking, and the life of the mind. And “sin” refers to the greatest defect in the universe, the big problem with everything, the source of all evil and suffering. The noetic effect of sin is defective thinking, especially self-deception.
We deceive ourselves. We manage to convince ourselves to believe things that we know just ain’t so. I cut someone off in traffic because I am a very important person on my way to a very important appointment, but that jackass cuts me off because he’s a complete and total asshat. See the difference? Yeah, me too. And neither. Self-deceptions, cognitive biases, the noetic effects of sin. Examples could be multiplied forever, but you get the point.
Since we are the ones deceiving ourselves, it would seem nearly impossible to break out of the feedback loop of self-deception. Fortunately for us, there is a thin golden thread that can be pulled to unweave the whole tapestry of the noetic effect of sin. I call it the poetic effect of sin, more often referred to as irony. Dorothy follows the yellow brick road the whole way through the land of Oz, trying to find a Wizard to help her get home. Ironically, she takes each step in the magic shoes that could’ve gotten her there anytime if she just knew how to use them.
Hunt the ironies in your stories, figure out the self-deceptions that lead you to live so ironically, and unbelieve them. It’s a hilarious and tragic process. The poetic effect of sin undoes the noetic effect of sin. Laugh, scream, weep. Lather, rinse, repeat.
The Anti-Hero’s Journey is simultaneously more arduous than any Hero’s Journey and more readily available to you than the present moment. The only sin you can actually commit is making something out of nothing: Creatio ex nihilo, the most original sin.
Anywhere that you find suffering, someone is making something out of nothing. Maybe it’s a villain, maybe a victim, maybe both, but it’s definitely not neither. If neither of them made something out of nothing, then there would be no suffering. There would only be nothing. Untell all your untrue stories and live out of whatever you find at the end of your last lie.
Here, I’ll untell some of my untrue stories, and maybe it’ll help you untell yours…
The Anti-Hero’s Journey asks us to ponder the profound insights and paradoxical truths Ben “Doc” Askins has artfully laid before us. His journey, woven from irony, tragedy, wonder, and self-reflection, invites us to confront the self-deceptions and cognitive biases that shape our understanding of reality.
The eccentric but eye-opening narrative of Anti-Hero’s Journey, woven from a life of wild experiences and equally eclectic knowledge, teases readers with the key to unlocking our hidden truths. Doc’s mostly true and occasionally cleverly embellished stories guide us to explore the depths of our psyche, urging us to untell our untrue stories and discover what lies at the end of our last lie
“The Anti-Hero’s Journey” is more than just a book; it’s a psychedelic gateway to a deeper understanding of ourselves and our world. It’s an invitation to embark on the most arduous yet fulfilling journey of all – the journey within.
As you turn the page, remember that the journey continues, and every story untold is one step closer to a truth yet discovered.
This material is not intended as a replacement or substitute for any legal or medical advice. Always consult a medical professional about your health needs. Psychedelics are widely illegal in the United States, and readers should always be informed about local, state, and federal regulations regarding psychedelics or other drugs.
- Askins, B. (n.d.). Anti-Hero’s Journey. Combo.antiherosjourney.com. Retrieved January 31, 2024, from https://combo.antiherosjourney.com/